Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GREEN (01/19/17)
- TITLE: Emeralds for Ruby
By Francy Judge
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A dry wind ruffled the curtain and cooled her face as the bread rose and filled the kitchen with the heavenly scent of warm buttery whole grains. Ruby heated a small portion of beans in a pot, just enough for the two of them. Would this be their last meal? She was only twelve, too young to get a job that would pay their debts.
Ruby tapped at her Mom’s bedroom door. “Here, Mom. I brought you something to eat. Can you sit up?”
“Thanks, Ruby. You’re an angel. I’m too weak to sit up right now. Maybe later.”
Ruby held back stubborn tears. “No, you have to sit up and eat. You won’t get better if you don’t have energy and I can’t bury you too.” She couldn’t help sobbing at the thought of losing both parents.
“Come here.” Ruby curled up next to her mom and hugged her. “Don’t worry. I’ll be okay. Can you prop the pillow behind me?”
After they ate the small meal together, Carla held her daughter’s hand and smiled. “Bring me my jewelry box.”
Ruby rubbed the velvet ribbon on the delicate box and placed it in her mother’s frail hands.
Carla lifted her emerald engagement ring and matching earrings. The emerald stones were surrounded by diamond chips and sparkled in the sunlight.
Ruby’s eyes grew wide open as she inspected the gems. “Those are beautiful.”
Carla dropped them in a silk bag, tied it and placed it in a larger sac. “Take these into the town jewelry shop in exchange for cash. You should get at least five thousand dollars. And take this ten dollar bill for bus fare.”
Ruby decided to walk the three miles and save the ten dollars.
When halfway to town, she stopped near a local farm market to drink some water. Four teenage boys approached her. Ruby’s heart pounded as she looked up at them.
“What ya got in that sac?”
“None of your business.” She stood to walk away from them.
The tallest boy snatched her bag. “I’ll take that. Thanks for offering.”
“Give that back!” Ruby yelled as they drove off in an old Mustang. She cried to God, “What do I do now?” She lifted her head as a large woman’s shadow covered her feet.
“I know your mom. Sweet lady, gone through some hard times. I’m Marjorie. Here, have these seeds. It’s the perfect time of year to grow a crop of peas.” She handed her three pounds of snap pea seeds.
Ruby sniffled. “Thank you.”
She walked home and told her mom the jewelry shop was closed. But her mom knew…
The next day as Ruby began planting, she heard trucks rolling over the gravel road. Thirty or so men, women, and children jumped out with farming tools in hand and small fences to install. Marjorie waved to her. “We’re gonna do some planting now.” Ruby wiped the tears that trickled down her cheeks.
Each day a group came to help her maintain the crop until the field grew bright green. Summer took its time to yield to fall, but one sunny morning, Ruby picked a handful of peas to sample for harvesting time. They were perfect.
“Mom, you have to get out of bed. I have a surprise for you.” Ruby helped Carla up and placed the peas in her hand. “Come see.”
Ruby’s heart lifted as she saw the twinkle in her mom’s eyes again. She parted the curtains.
Carla placed her hand across her heart. “Thank you, Lord. Ruby, you did this by yourself?”
“The whole town helped. We should get more than enough money from the crop to pay our debts.”
“These peas are better than jewels…and you, Ruby, are the most precious gem to me.”
They watched the sun rise over the field. It was hope.
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